The lens of your eye is responsible for focusing light on the objects you see. If the lens is clouded, then you can’t see things clearly, and this is known as a cataract. It can form gradually over many years or you can be born with a cataract. For some people, cataracts are not even noticeable. They just find themselves turning on more lights to read or having trouble with glares while driving at night. Most cataracts are problematic later in life. It is estimated that more than half of all Americans over the age of 80 will have cataracts or have had them corrected with surgery.
Another common eye problem for seniors is glaucoma. Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve by causing various types of damage due to high pressure. The optic nerve carries images from the retina to the brain, so advanced glaucoma can actually impair vision to the point of blindness. It is actually the leading cause of blindness in the world. However, glaucoma can be remedied in a number of ways. Early detection and treatment by your eye surgeon are critical in achieving optimal results.
While many adults over the age of 65 suffer from both cataracts and glaucoma, it is important to note that the two are not related. Glaucoma does not cause cataracts and cataracts do not cause glaucoma. That being said, cataract surgery involves creating a small incision in the lens of the eye to remove the affected, or “cloudy” area of the lens. Many times, the entire lens is removed and a plastic lens called an intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted in its place.
Glaucoma, on the other hand, is typically treated with medications and laser procedures. Although the optic nerve cannot be repaired or replaced like the lens can be in cataract surgery, doctors have options when it comes to treating both conditions. Each patient must be assessed as an individual when it comes to treating cataracts and glaucoma simultaneously. Since glaucoma is very dependent on eye pressure, it is vital that a surgeon take extra care during a dual procedure not to cause further damage to the optic nerve.
As an example, it might be better to leave the cataracts untreated if they are not affecting the patient’s daily activities. Laser treatment and anti-glaucoma medications can then be used to effectively treat the glaucoma until the cataract worsens and requires surgery. For patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, cataract surgery may be possible while also treating the patients with pressure-lowering medications. Surgery alone can actually lower pressure enough to treat glaucoma in some cases as well. For patients with the most severe glaucoma cases, a cataract surgeon can combine lens removal with glaucoma filtering.
If you are suffering from cataracts and glaucoma in New York, contact our office at the 5th Avenue Eye Center. We have performed countless cataract surgeries. All you have to do is contact us for a consultation. We have one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in New York and will work with you and your insurance to create a cost-effective, results-oriented plan for your vision.